MPs warn of stress for welfare scheme claimants

Melanie Leader was injured in a car accident crushing her leg and has been waiting since January to

Melanie Leader was injured in a car accident crushing her leg and has been waiting since January to hear from Capita, the company which is in charge of assessing people for personal independence payments.Photo by Simon Finlay. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

The 'fiasco' of a flagship government welfare scheme has caused unnecessary distress to thousands of sick and disabled people, MPs have warned, in a damning report which backs the concerns of many in East Anglia.

The influential Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said implementation of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) had been 'rushed', and described the impact as 'shocking'.

Melanie Leader, who works for the charity Equal Lives helping others facing delays, has still not heard when she will have an assessment after applying in January.

She was in a road accident in 1987, which crushed her leg leaving her with severe arthritis in her hip, knee, ankle and toes. She needs the payment so she can apply for a motability car as she is currently relying on others to take her where she needs to go.

The 45-year-old from Framingham Pigot, said: 'I believe the report is a fair assessment for myself and everyone in this situation; yet again I have taken calls from people wanting to know if we could help them with their PIP claim as they had not heard anything.

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'All I could give them was a number for the inquiry line. It is leaving vulnerable people in limbo; it's the not knowing which is stressful and impacts on their already stressful lives due to their conditions.

'It seems to be a complete farce; not fit for purpose.'

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The MPs expressed alarm that the average waiting time for terminally ill people to receive a decision was 28 days, 180pc longer than originally expected.

Mark Harrison, chief executive of Equal Lives, said campaigners had told the minister for disabled people this was a cost-cutting exercise and it wouldn't work.

'They now need to live up to their responsibilities to their disabled citizens and reverse these cruel policies which are driving us into poverty and hardship.'

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